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The Collapse of The Soviet Union 30 Years On: transition and Soviet legacy

Hosted by LSE IDEAS and the Ratiu Forum

Online public event


Dr Diana Georgescu

Dr Diana Georgescu

Lecturer in Transnational South-East European Studies, SSEES, UCL

Professor Slavo Radosevic

Professor of Industry and Innovation Studies, SSEES, UCL

Professor Serhii Plokhii

Professor Serhii Plokhii

Mykhailo S. Hrushevs'kyi Professor of Ukrainian History, Harvard University

Professor Vladislav Zubok

Professor Vladislav Zubok

Professor of International History, LSE


Dr Victoria Phillips

Dr Victoria Phillips

Visiting Fellow, Department of International History, LSE

This event brings together world-leading academics and practitioners to investigate the immediate ramifications of the end of the Soviet order, education and social mobility, and a look at the development of the region three decades on. The generational dimensions of the transition in the commonwealth of independent states will also be analysed in this 90-minute public webinar.

This year states across Eastern and Central Europe are marking their third decade of independence, and the region remains in a state of unknown; oscillating between the western liberal democracies of the EU and a pivot towards Moscow and the East. Did we witness the end of History? Has Europe been wanting for a superpower ever since? Has Washington lost its fight for influence in the post-Soviet space?

25 December 1991, Mikhail Gorbachev, leader of the Soviet Union for almost seven years and executive president for nearly two, stepped down from office. He announced his resignation in a 10-minute speech, broadcast live on television, as the Soviet Union passed into history. The Soviet red flag, bearing the hammer and sickle, was lowered over the Kremlin and in its place the Russian Federation's tricolour was raised. It was an image mirrored at Soviet embassies around the world.

In the immediate aftermath, and 30 years on, the post-Soviet space remains an area in transition. Transition into democracies, into EU accession and a geopolitical tinderbox between two Great Powers. Russia recently announced it was suspending its mission to NATO and closing the alliance's offices in Moscow, as relations with the Western military bloc plunged to new depths. Covid has ravaged the region and left many wanting in the wake of lacklustre.

Meet the speakers

Diana Georgescu is Assistant Professor in Eastern European History at the School of Slavonic and Eastern European Studies at University College London. Her research focuses on socialist and post-socialist Romania, with particular interests in the transnational history of childhood and youth, memory studies, gender history and comparative nationalism. Dr Georgescu has published articles on socialist childhood and citizenship, post-socialist memory regimes, gendered representations of national and European identity, post-communist film, national identity and travel writing. Her current book project, ‘Ceaușescu’s Children:’ The Making and Unmaking of Romania’s Last Socialist Generation (1965-2010), explores the lived experiences, institutional structures and ideological constructions of socialist childhood and citizenship in Ceaușescu’s Romania, throwing light the role of children as both objects of state efforts to raise loyal socialist citizens and as agents in their own right.

Slavo Radosevic is Professor of Industry and Innovation Studies at the University College London where he has also been acting director of the School of Slavonic and East European Studies. He has worked at the University of Sussex SPRU as a researcher (1993-1999), as a researcher in Croatia, as a government economist and was Federal Under-secretary for Development in the former Yugoslavia. His main research interests are in science, technology, industrial change, foreign direct investments and innovation policy in Europe, with particular reference to central and eastern Europe (CEE) and former USSR economies. He has published extensively in international journals in these areas and has edited several volumes on these issues. He acts as an expert for the UN Economic Commission for Europe for which he worked on former Soviet Union economies (Armenia, Belarus, Ukraine, Moldova, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan). He has been an advisor to the EC, OECD, UNESCO, UNIDO, and World Bank. He has been a special advisor to the EC DG Commissioner for Regional and Urban Policy (2015-2019).

Serhii Plokhii is the Mykhailo Hrushevsky Professor of Ukrainian History and the director of the Ukrainian Research Institute at Harvard University. A leading authority on Eastern Europe, he has published extensively on the international history of World War II and the Cold War. His books won numerous awards, including the Lionel Gelber Prize for the best English-language book on the international relations and the Ballie Gifford Prize for Non-Fiction (UK).

Vladislav Zubok is professor of international history, with expertise on the Cold War, the Soviet Union, Stalinism, and Russia’s intellectual history in the 20th century. His most recent books are Collapse: The Fall of the Soviet Union (2021), The Idea of Russia: The Life and Work of Dmitry Likhachev (2017), Dmitry Likhachev. The Life and the Century (in Russian, 2016) A Failed Empire: the Soviet Union in the Cold War from Stalin to Gorbachev (2007) and Zhivago’s Children: the Last Russian Intelligentsia (2009).

Meet the chair

Victoria Phillips is a Visiting Fellow at LSE's Department of International History. She specializes in Cold War history, United States cultural diplomacy, and international relations. Her book with Oxford University Press, Martha Graham’s Cold War: The Dance of American Diplomacy (2020), explores the export of modern dance as American soft power to over twenty-five contested nations between 1955 and 1989. Her articles have appeared in publications from the New York Times and American Communist History, to Ballet News and Dance Research Journal.

Event hashtag: #2020Visions

LSE IDEAS (@lseideas) is LSE's foreign policy think tank. Through sustained engagement with policymakers and opinion-formers, IDEAS provides a forum that informs policy debate and connects academic research with the practice of diplomacy and strategy.

The Ratiu Forum (@forumratiu) is a joint initiative by the Ratiu Family Charitable Foundation, the Ratiu Democracy Centre and LSE IDEAS. Romania and the Balkan region are priority areas of interest for The Ratiu Forum. The Ratiu Forum operates at three main levels: sharing expertise through the support of LSE IDEAS, holding regular workshops and lectures, both in-house and public, on subjects of topical interest, and expanding external outreach through partnerships with similar institutions.


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